Right to Information

IHC dismisses plea against PIC ruling to make details of copter use in AJK Polls public

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday dismissed the appeal against the decision of Pakistan Information Commission (PIC) to make public the details regarding the helicopter’s use during the elections of AJK prime minister.

The court remarked if the helicopter was used to bring members of someone’s family or other than the defence purpose then it was its misuse. Upholding the decision of PIC, the court ordered the federal government to share information with the applicant citizen as he wanted to know where the prime minister’s helicopter was used.

This was to be mentioned here that the PTI candidates for AJK prime ministerial were brought on a helicopter for an interview with the then prime minister Imran Khan. At the outset of hearing, Deputy Attorney General Arshad Mahmood Kayani adopted the stance that the information could not be shared as it was related to the defence.

IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah, hearing the case, said that the information being sought was not related to the defence, adding that a citizen was asking for information related to use of public funds. “If a defence helicopter was used for any other purpose, it was the right of the citizen to know the information,” the chief justice remarked. Justice Athar Minallah questioned if he was using the helicopter, how it could be related to the defence purposes.

He remarked that the citizen had the right to know where his money was being spent under Article 19A of the Constitution. The court observed that the applicant was not asking for information related to the defence forces instead he was asking details about the Prime Minister’s Secretariat and this was an effective way of accountability of a public office. The court said if the helicopter was misused, those responsible were accountable to the public.

The Court, in the remarks, also said that the public bodies should stop coming to the court to stop public’s access to information.

IHC CJ Athar Minallah said that the government should not bring such petitions before the court as it is accountable to the people. The case was subsequently dismissed.

It is pertinent to mention here that a writ petition challenging the Pakistan Information Commission’s decision to disclose information regarding the helicopter flown by the former prime minister Imran Khan has been pending before the Islamabad High Court for the past two years.

In response to a plea from Shehzad Yousafzai, The Pakistan Information Commission ruled in July 2020 to release details of expenses about the helicopter trips and associated costs.

Additionally, Imran Khan was the subject of an investigation into alleged misuse of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government’s helicopter.


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